Cisco Rolls Out Switches, Software Upgrades

Offering a nod to the growing importance of content networking, Cisco Systems Inc. at N+I launched a new stand-alone content switch series.

LAS VEGAS—Offering a nod to the growing importance of content networking, Cisco Systems Inc. on Monday at the N+I trade show launched a new standalone content switch series as well as an enhanced content switching module for existing switches and a series of software upgrades.

The Cisco CSS (Content Services Switch) 11500 Series modular content switches are the newest addition for the San Jose, Calif., networking vendor. The CSS 11500 provides integrated Secure Socket Layer acceleration capabilities, which customers can add as a module, said Mark Leary, solutions managers for content networking at Cisco. The CSS 11500 comes in two configurations, the CSS 11503 with three slots and the 11506 with six slots. Along with the SSL acceleration module, customer also could add modules such as I/O and session acceleration modules.

Both switches are available now. The CSS 11503 starts at $16,995 and the CSS 11506 starts at $26,995.

With the CSS 11500 and the other content networking upgrades, Cisco is trying to address the changing role of content networking in enterprises. Where it used to be a more piecemeal approach of adding devices for specific services such as load balancing, enterprises now are looking for more service to be integrated within hardware and to be available across the data center, Leary said

"What were seeing is people taking the approach now (of) incorporating these content services as a portion of the network utility, something that is expected to be there," Leary said. "As they add on servers and new applications, they expect those applications to leverage those services that are available."

To that end, Cisco also announced a string of enhancements to existing lines of content networking hardware and software. For data centers using Catalyst 6500 Series switches and Cisco 7600 Series routers, the company unveiled release 3.1 of its Content Switching Module (CSM) that adds Layer 4 through Layer 7 capabilities. CSM 3.1, a module to the 6500 and 7600, provides global server load balancing capabilities, among other things, to help improve performance of distributed Web sites. Catalyst 6500 CSM 3.2 is available now and starts at $39,995.

Other new releases include Release 2 of the Cisco Content Transformation Engine 1400, an appliance for delivering Web content to multiple devices such as wireless phones, PDAs and Cisco IP phones. The newest release, available now and starting at $24,995, offers JavaScript support, Web-based network administration, performance monitoring including through the Simple Network Management Protocol and the ability to send graphic images to Cisco IP phones.

The 4.1 release of Cisco Application and Content Networking System software runs on the companys content delivery products such as content routers, content distribution managers and content engines. The release, available now, adds support for streaming capabilities through Microsoft Corp.s Windows Media Technology and RealNetworks Inc.s RealSystem v8 Server Subscriber and offers Web filter support for products from Secure Computing Corp.s and N2H2 Inc. Pricing starts at $5,500 for use with content engine and at $19,995 for use with content distribution managers.

Release 3.4 of Cisco IP/TV software delivers live streaming content. The release, due to be available in June and starting at $10,000, offers greater management ability beyond 10,000 users, supports high-resolution video at low-bit rates with support of the ISO MPEG-4 CODEC and offers new recording capabilities through the Cisco WebPresenter features for combining MPEG-4 video, audio, slides and URLs. Finally the Cisco 1105 Hosting Solution Engine 1.4, a management device for data centers using Ciscos CSS 11000 and new 11500, the Catalyst CSM and content delivery software, allows users to manage and monitor content services and version 1.4 includes Web-based historical reports and Layer 4 through Layer 7 service configuration and activation for server load balancing and personalization.